The Innisfree Poetry Journal

by Sid Gold

The Barrens

He knew better, he told me

in that dry voice so matter-of-fact

you could shake hands with it,

than to start walking at 2 A.M.

that night his pick-up stalled out

somewhere in the Pine Barrens

so he stayed put until daylight

when someone finally came along.

He loved it up there, he said

but it could be lonely, lonely.


A good tale, albeit a small one,

& quick in the telling.

Did I mention the speaker

was my mechanic?

Kept those heaps I drove running

for years longer than they should.

Bar Crawl

That afternoon, during that walk,

my father was intent on showing me

the joint in Hell’s Kitchen

with the two bullet holes in the mirror

over the bar. It was a narrow storefront

in the middle of the block, but the bar itself

was gone, its site now nothing more

than an empty, unlit space in a row

of eyesores where only the Chinese laundry

appeared open for business. The day

was pleasant & we had nothing to do

but wander around Hell’s Kitchen with nothing

to do, my father matter-of-factly explaining

the ritual of bar crawls years ago with his buddies

from the job, men who might tell you

they drove a truck for a living & then add,

after a moment’s pause, they were teamsters,

a term surviving from the era when those

who did such work drove teams of horses.


My father said all this as we strolled west

down West 48th, yet I don’t recall

whether it was before or after we visited Rudy’s

on 9th, where the guy on the next stool

engaged me in polite conversation

about the manufacture of homemade guns.

On that topic, I had little to say & my father,

momentarily busy reconnoitering

on the island of his memory, even less.

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